The spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has revealed that the UN has documented the recruitment of 1,476 Yemeni children to be used in armed conflict, mostly by Shia Houthi militias.
“We have received numerous reports of the recruitment of children in Yemen for use in the armed conflict, mostly by the Popular Committees affiliated with the Houthis,” Ravina Shamdasani announced in a press release. “In all, between 26 March 2015 and 31 January 2017, the UN has managed to verify the recruitment of 1,476 children, all boys. However; the numbers are likely to be much higher as most families are not willing to talk about the recruitment of their children, for fear of reprisals.”
Just last week, the UN received new reports of children who were recruited without the knowledge of their families, she added.
“Children under the age of 18 often join the fighting after either being misled or attracted by promises of financial rewards or social status,” explained the UN official. “Many are then quickly sent to the front lines of the conflict or tasked with manning checkpoints.”
She called upon the warring parties in Yemen to note that “the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict is strictly forbidden by international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and when concerning cases of recruitment of children under fifteen may amount to a war crime.” She urged the Yemeni groups to release the soldier children “immediately”.
Shamdasani pointed out that the conflict in Yemen has, between March 2015 and 23 February 2017, led to 4,667 civilian deaths and 8,180 injured civilians.